The recently announced inaugural edition of ‘Dancehall Week,’ which is set to take center stage in February, has piqued the interest of local and international fans of the genre.
DancehallMag spoke with Janice Young, a member of the Dancehall Week Organizing Committee, who hit back passionately at critics who claim that Dancehall Week was a response to the rising popularity of soca events in Jamaica and that it was a possible clash with the reggae month calendar.
“Dancehall is a subgenre of reggae music, deeply rooted in the reggae culture itself. It was created out of reggae, and they are closely related. Placing Dancehall Week in February, during Reggae Month, allows us to celebrate both genres on an international scale. It’s an opportunity to showcase the interconnectedness of reggae and dancehall,” she said.
The initiative aims to honor dancehall, a significant element of Jamaica’s cultural identity, during February—a month dedicated to celebrating the nation’s musical heritage. Young noted that while tributes to dancehall during Reggae Month aren’t new, dedicating a whole week to it marks a significant step in recognizing its influence and contribution to Jamaica’s cultural essence.
“It’s a reminder that these genres are actually family,” she added. “Even though they may sound different, and artists may approach the music differently, they are very much related. Putting dancehall week elsewhere might create segregation, but within Reggae Month, it emphasizes the unity of these genres on an international level.”
Young dismissed the notion of dancehall week imitating soca, particularly regarding the road march aspect.
“We’re not mimicking soca; we’re creating a spectacle to recognize dancehall. A road march, a display used by various genres worldwide, is a good representation of the same culture. While not mimicking soca, it’s our way of showcasing our own music, dancehall, outfits, and culture.”
Regarding corporate support, Young pointed out that the event is not a litmus test for corporate backing in Jamaica.
“The litmus test is to showcase our ability to give due recognition to our own music and culture. Dancehall has significantly contributed to the Jamaican economy, creating numerous jobs, and this week is about acknowledging that.”
“The feedback from the dancehall fraternity regarding the planned activities for Dancehall Week 2024 has been overwhelmingly positive,” according to Young.
She expressed gratitude to the government, various agencies, and corporate partners, who have shared their excitement and anticipation to see the fruition of the next phases of execution.
The planned events for Dancehall Week 2024 include a tribute to dancehall fashion From the “Boujie Dancehall”-themed Fashion RoadBlock. The “Sound Battle” will pay homage to Dancehall’s well-established sound clash culture.
Valentines Day will be celebrated, dancehall style with a red and white breakfast party. The most talked about of all the Street Parade is set for February 18, a highlight of the week and the week winds down with a yacht party at Maiden Cay on February 19.